Page 10

salute to the veterans

page 10 / Thursday, February 24, 2011 / The Daily Iberian Profile 2011 / Celebrating Our Community

Sub-hunter Forrest flew Atlantic BY KARMA CHAMPAGNE THE DAILY IBERIAN

R

LEE BALL / THE DAILY IBERIAN

Albert ‘Bud’ Forrest portraying Cmdr. Harbison in IPAL’s production of the play ‘South Pacific.’

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Capt. Abert ‘Bud’ Forrest flew top secret missions.

etired U.S. Navy Capt. L. Albert “Bud” Forrest speaks humbly and proudly of his 24year tenure while serving his country in the Armed Forces and the challenges he faced as part of anti-submarine naval warfare. As a Navy pilot and member of an elite Navy Anti-submarine Hunter Killer Group, Forrest faced many challenges while piloting multi-engine aircraft on missions to actively detect and track enemy submarines, or destroy them if necessary. SUBMITTED Whether flying missions from a Albert Forrest Sr., ‘Bud’ Forrest’s father, piloted an open cockpit bi-plane. carrier at sea or an onshore air station, any successful anti-submarine warfare mission hinged on a mix of the Naval Air Base in New Iberia. when he speaks of three of his feldependable sensor and weapon techWith less than 1 percent meeting the low high school classmates, who also nology, detailed training, experience qualifications for acceptance in flight went on to become pilots, but never and sometimes even a little luck. school, Forrest considered it an honor returned home. He also thinks about Forrest said every carrier landing to earn his Navy Wings and eventual- the pilots of the three aircraft of his always presented the same thrill and ly become part of a Navy Antisister squadron who did not survive. adrenaline rush as the first. Other Submarine Hunter Killer Group. “I was lucky, I was sent to the North than a helicopter, he piloted everyForrest made hundreds of carrier Atlantic and Mediterranean, but my thing from single engine jets to multi- landings during his aviation career classmates were sent to Vietnam. They engine turboprop jets. and earned the Centurion badge in never made it back,” said Forrest. “Yes, there is a ‘legitimate high’ recognition of 100 safe landings made Forrest said the success of each from the time you take off until the on the same ship — the USS Wasp. mission depended on a strong supcarrier landing. It is about being able Although difficult, the daytime carport team who were responsible for to accept the challenge and complete rier landing had become more routine, such things as maintenance of the the task. There is no ride at Six Flags Forrest said. But the night landings aircraft, fuel and the catapult. Over Texas that in any way can com- were always an enormous challenge. “Part of our successful effort was pares to this,” said Forrest. “I can “You have no visual reference at due to the support group of as many remember my first landing and night other than the lights on the as 250 personnel. If any one of those thinking how am I going to get this ship,” said Forrest. 250 did not do their job, anything aircraft on this 800-foot deck.” The 72-year-old faced difficult chalcould happen,” Forrest said. Each time Forrest entered the cock- lenges in his career, but one in particAfter completing flight training in pit, he knew he and his co-pilot were ular put his experience and training New Iberia, Forrest ended up with a in command of the aircraft, but there to the ultimate test. He remembers bonus. He met and married Adele was still the uncertainty of his own vividly the night his aircraft had a Simon of New Iberia, raised three childestiny if the mission would end in a complete hydraulic failure while flydren and now has four grandchildren. face-off with an enemy submarine. ing over the Atlantic Ocean. After active duty, he earned his law “The enemy knew we could hurt “This was one of my most chaldegree Tulane Law School and them as badly as they could hurt us, so lenging moments. It was dark, rainy, remained in the Naval Air Reserve neither of us wanted to strike the first there was no place to go and there before retiring. Forrest is still an blow, until the bell rang,” said Forrest. was no time to call Mama for help. It active licensed pilot. That love of flyThe New Iberia resident served on was a one-shot deal to get the aircraft ing extended to a third generation, as the USS Essex, USS Antietam, USS back aboard the ship again,” he said. his son, the late Larry Forrest, was a Lexington and spent two years aboard “But we are trained to handle situacommercial airline pilot. the USS Wasp in the North Atlantic. tions like this.” Forrest said he is extremely proud Navy anti-submarine warfare played Forrest had wanted to be a pilot and grateful to have had the opportuan important role in defending the since he was 10 The St. Paul, Minn., nity to serve his country and is country against the 600 Russian subnative obviously was influenced by thankful to all of the other men and marines that posed a threat during his father, L. Albert Forrest Sr., who women who served. the impasse of the Cold War. was a U.S. Army Signal Corps pilot “I salute all of them,” said Forrest. “Our missions were highly special- and flew an open cockpit airplane. Forrest will play a part true to his ized and top secret,” said Forrest. “As a pilot, I grew up rapidly and character when he performs in full Growing up in the day of the draft, knew I had to become extremely self- uniform in the Iberia Performing Forrest had volunteered for the Navy reliant. I learned quickly to have a lot Arts League March 25 opening perand then applied for Navy flight of respect for my aircraft,” he said. formance of the legendary Broadway school. He completed his training at Forrest is overcome with emotion musical hit, “South Pacific.”

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Veterans Profile 2011  

Profile of Teche area veterans